Lighting the table, Diwali Dishes From our Contributors


By Salima Jivraj @halal_foodie & online at

Food Writer, Masalamommas

It’s been just over a week since hurricane Sandy hit the East coast of the United States. She hit hard and made her presence known by leaving behind destruction, floods, electrical outages and displaced families.


I don’t celebrate Diwali and was researching how I could share something meaningful to my readers who do. A few weeks ago fellow Masalamommas writer, Nisha (NYC Events Reporter) suggested that I feature a few recipes from our writers; sort of like a mini Diwali recipe collection.


I thought it was a great idea – and now, after hurricane Sandy, I think it’s an important and much needed way to lend a hand if anyone is looking for some traditional recipes or just some inspiration to light their tables and homes with delicious foods after a few dark





Urvashee Patel

Twitter: @dessarts


Ghughara or Karanji

(click here for original post to recipe.)

Photo: Courtesy


(makes about 75)


For the filling:
1 cup melted ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp saffron
3 cups very fine sooji (found in Indian Grocery stores)
2 cups almond flour
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups additive free powdered sugar (or 1 cup confectioners + 1 cup regular if you can’t find additive free)


  • In a large pot, heat the ghee on high then turn to low. Add 1/4 tsp saffron and add the sooji and stir on low until golden, fragrant and clumpy. It may take at least 10 minutes of constant stirring. You don’t want any part of it getting brown. Empty into another bowl so it stops cooking and cools.  After it has fully cooled, add the spices and almond flour and mix. Finally, mix in the sugar. Form football shaped clumps of the filling by pressing together a tablespoon of the filling in your fist.


For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup melted ghee
3/8 cup sooji
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup water (this is approximate)


  • Combine the flour, corn starch, ghee, sooji, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and stir on slow. Add the water a tablespoon or two at a time. You may not need all of the water or you may need more than 1/2 cup. The goal is for the dough to come together and be smooth but should not be overly sticky and wet.


  • Pinch off a piece of dough to form about an inch sized ball. Roll it out to a 3 to 4 inch diameter circle. It will shrink fast, but you can stretch it as you close the pastry. Place the filling ball in the dough and begin close it into a half circle as shown below. Once it is sealed, you can fold over the edge to make a decorative finish the same way you would on a pie crust.


  • Repeat the above process until you have made all of your ghugharas. Let them dry for several hours or overnight. You want the dough to dry out some before frying. It should no longer be sticky on the outside and should be much easier to handle without losing its shape. Deep frying before it dries will cause it to oddly bubble up (not pretty) and stay soft.


  • Deep fry each one in vegetable oil on medium heat. Be sure to place each one into the oil with the decorative side facing down first. Then turn them until both side are a pinkish golden color. Cool and store in an air tight container.



Nisha Pawar Vedi

NYC Reporter, masalamommas



Kadoo ki Saabzi:


2 cups pumpkin (peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes)

kadoo ki sabzi

1/3 cup chopped tomato

1 1/2 teaspoon fresh crushed ginger

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin

3 chopped green chillies

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon raw mango powder

5-6 curry leaves

pinch of asafoetida


  • Heat oil in wok or shallow pan on medium low heat. Once hot, add fenugreek seeds, cumin, asafoetida, curry leaves, green chillies, and ginger. As the cumin seeds begin to crackle add the pumpkin, coriander powder, red chilli powder, and salt. Mix well, cover, and let cook on low heat. Cook pumpkin for 15-20 minutes, mixing periodically. Once the pumpkin is soft, add the chopped tomato and raw mango powder. Mix and let cook together for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serve with hot puris or paranthas

This recipe is special to me because my mom makes this every Diwali and serves it with fresh puris, aloo ki saabzi, and raita. After getting married I’ve kept the same Diwali dinner menu in our house.



Vaishali Sharda, Columnist

Vaishali Sharda 



MommaCC’s Choley 


2 cans of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)

1 large onion (chopped )

1 tsp ginger/garlic paste (individually, ½ tsp crushed ginger, ½ tsp crushed garlic)

¾ tbsp cooking oil

½ cup of water (or one cup If you prefer more sauce)

½ tsp cumin

¼ small can of tomato sauce

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp red chilli powder (“not the gora people kind of chilli but lal mirch” as quoted by mom)

1 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste



½ cup chopped tomato

½ cup chopped red onion

¾ cup chopped cilantro


  • Drain, rinse and set garbanzo beans aside. Add cooking oil to pan and heat over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and lower heat. When seeds turn slightly brown, turn heat back to medium and add chopped onions until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté with onions until light brown. Add tomato sauce and mix in pan. Add all dry ingredients to sauce mix in pan and stir into sauce mix (turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala, salt). Add the rinsed garbanzo beans. Stir into sauce mix and coat thoroughly.


  • Mixture should have a dark yellow color with a hint of redness to it. Once well coated, add ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow garbanzo beans to soften slightly. Stir once or twice to ensure masala and sauce are not sticking to bottom. Remove from heat and pour into serving dish. Garnish with chopped tomato, onions and cilantro and serve with warm puri or over rice if made saucy.




Regardless of the occasion, be it, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid or a birthday, there are some ways to make planning and hosting your celebrations a little easier:


  • Plan, plan, plan: make lists and menus. Separate tasks by priority and delegate! If your partner is not a cook, make them your sous chef by asking them to wash, cut, peel and prep your ingredients in advance. Ziplock bags and plastic containers are your allies – so is your label gun or Sharpie.


  • Stock up: To give the illusion of a hardy spread, purchase munchies such as nuts, dried fruits, and a variety of crackers. You can always keep these on hand for months with proper storage and whip them out when needed – say when a relative shows up at your doorstep!? Nuts and dried fruits on hand are also really useful when you need to bake and don’t have time to run out – you can make the simplest recipe more special by adding these in.


  • Be your own factory: If you’re going through the trouble of making samosas or anything that requires more time, triple your quantities and mass produce. The small extra increase of time invested pays off here with way more supply that you can freeze and keep on hand for the next big event. Ask some family members to join the production line (BYOI – bring your own ingredients) and split the profits!


  • Take advantage of the season: Diwali this year falls right after Halloween, and that’s precisely when (in Canada) the Christmas stock comes out at retailers. Party platters, baking kits, sales, etc. can all help you if you think outside of the box. Last year I purchased end of the season Christmas décor, tableware, etc. at huge discounts. I strategically bought only green and white pieces or red and white pieces that weren’t screaming Santa and I can use these for a handful of other events and celebrations throughout the year.
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